Thursday, December 11, 2014

Battuto | Evan Funke’s Secret Weapon Is Now Mine!

Every year for Christmas, my sister wraps up a tin of anchovies for me. And while I do like them – a lot – I’m the lone ranger around here. I’ll dress up a salad once in a while or I’ll sneak a couple into a sauce, but I still have a nice tall stack of pretty colored anchovy tins in my pantry.

Then another sister suggested I try making the battuto she’d just read about on Tasting Table. Chef Evan Funke of Bucato in Los Angeles uses anchovies for his battuto, which combines the chile-infused olio santo of southern Italy with the warm garlic and anchovy bagna cauda dip of the north.

Technically, battuto is a flavor base often used in Italian cooking that usually contains some kind of pork fat, onions and garlic.

Funke swapped anchovies for the pork and spiced things up with red chiles. The result is a wonderfully versatile condiment that is – to me – a lot like Worcestershire sauce (which also contains anchovies) that adds just a little extra something that transforms the ho-hum into something special.

Although Funke uses fresh anchovies – what a treat that must be! – in the boonies, only canned anchovies are available. And my pantry needs to be trimmed a little anyhow. Tasting Table recommended using the Cento brand, which I happen to have. (Thank you, Rita.) Rinsing them and soaking in fresh olive oil for an hour improves the canned chovies.

Funke uses his unique battuto in a variety of ways:

  • He makes what he calls “a more genteel version” of  puttanesca by adding two tablespoons of the mixture into two cups of tomato sauce.
  • To make an easy Caesar salad dressing, whisk together three tablespoons of battuto, ¼ cup lemon juice, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, one tablespoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. –
  • As a marinade for beef, lamb or firm fish, add one tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice to ½ cup battuto, then rub it all over your protein of choice. Let it marinate at room temperature for thirty minutes before cooking.
  • -For antipasti, toss hunks of cheese, olives, or sliced carrots and peppers with a light dressing of battuto, and let them sit for 15 minutes before serving. "It adds a subtle garlicky and salty aspect to anything savory," Funke says.

I’ve been adding this battuto to hamburgers, meatloaf, salad dressings, and spaghetti sauce without a whimper from my unsuspecting Mr. Rosemary.  Just a “This is good.” Enough said.

From Chef Evan Funke,
Bucato, Los Angeles
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 white anchovy filets
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 red jalapeño, seeded*
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste

Combine half the olive oil, anchovies, garlic, jalapeño and red pepper flakes in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Add the remaining oil and season (carefully) with salt. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to a week.

* I successfully substituted dry red chiles.


  1. I bet this brings incredible flavor to puttanesca sauces and Caesar vinaigrettes. Mario Batali once said, "You aren't obligated to tell people about the anchovies" and that works for me.

    1. Although I don't really like to be sneaky, Sam, it works for me, too.

  2. I live by the mantra that "it's so much fun to learn something new everyday" . . . and you sure are the winner of the day with teaching me something new TODAY, Rosemary! First, I've never heard of "Battuto" and secondly, I'm totally ignorant as to how to prepare it. But as an insanely crazy (and sadly, the lone) lover of anchovies in my family, this is right up my culinary alley! Thank you for educating me and for sharing this recipe!
    Long live anchovies!
    Buon Natale, bella amica,

    1. I'd never heard of it either, Roz. In fact, I was only recently introduced to bagna cauda and was chastised -- "And you call yourself Italian!" Yep, learning something new every day is a good thing. Thanks for visiting, Roz.

  3. I didn't realise battuto had so many different uses! Thanks for the tip, I will try to find it (or use your recipe :D)

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. I made a anchovy dressing for my kale salad not long ago and I loved every bit of it. Must give yours a try too.
    Have a great holiday season!

    1. I've often wondered why "fish sauce" is okay with some folks, but not anchovies? I'm glad it's not a mystery too you, Angie!

  5. This sounds like something I would definitely use, Rosemary. I keep anchovy paste in my fridge all the time to enhance flavors in dishes but this sounds even better.

    1. It was a great discovery for me, Karen. I already have to make a new batch. Love it.

  6. Bill would never go for anchovies he could recognize...but working them into other dishes is something I can do with success. They provide such great flavor!

  7. This sounds like a delicious and useful condiment, thanks for sharing!

  8. I'll often put a whole tin of anchovies in my puttanesca. It's magical! And I love what anchovies do to so many dishes -- add an awful lot of flavor, but doesn't taste at all fishy. The battuto is wonderful -- thanks.

    1. I always get a kick out of people who say they hate anchovies and then blithely shake Worcestershire sauce on their whatever. I like how you call using anchovies "magical." I always knew I was a wizard.


I realize you don't have to take the time to comment . . . but it makes my day! So glad you decided to stay.